Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Social Justice

Just say no

In yesterday’s post, I was talking about where to draw the line when it came to problematic creators. It always amuses/frustrates me when people try to lecture me about not giving my money to someone I personally abhor. Even if they were objectively true that I should not use my purchasing power in that way–

Which, by the way. Let’s unpack and dissect that a bit. Capitalism is based on buying what you want/need. And the basic tenet is ‘let the market decide’. In tangent, we are told that people ‘vote with their wallets’. To me, this means that me deciding NOT to give money to JKR, for example, is exactly how capitalism/politics are supposed to work. And yet, I’m told that somehow I’m doing her wrong by not buying her shit?

I want to emphasize again that no one is owed my money. I’m not talking about bills, of course, but about creators who are trying to entice me to part with my dollars. While I support the arts in general, I am not obligated to support any one artist. It’s fascinating to me that the political right, who are big proponents of capitalism (so they say) are the ones who throw a hissy fit when they perceive ‘cancel culture’ is happening.

Look. You can’t really have it both ways. You can’t say let the market decide unless it goes against my point of view. I mean, you can say that, but it’s not being internally logical. Which, I know. It may not surprise you to know that I don’t think much of the right and their ability to maintain an internal logic.

More to the point, though, is that they are really good at staying on message. It’s one thing I envy about the Republicans. Less so since that guy took over the party, but still. They will line up dutifully behind their party and repeat the talking points ad nauseam.

I wish the Democrats were as on message, but for better and worse, we are the big tent party. I have been a Dem since I was eighteen. Before that, really, but maybe not vocally.

Continue Reading

The limits of labels

I wanted to do a post on labels, so I looked up ‘No Labels’ to se ewhat they were up to these days. Unfortunately, they’re deciding to be assholes as usual. Basically, they are a bunch of rich people who want to rule America. So, per yooz, but without being principled enough to choose a political party. Because they would not suceeed in that party. So they took their balls to make another party. In other words, they are exceedingly egotistical people who think it should be all about them.

If you are a power-hungry asshole, just SAY you’re a power-hungry asshole. I do think that only having two political parties is bullshit. Most of my life, I’ve voted for the lesser of two evils, and it’s not great. It gives too much power to those two groups and disenfranchises many people. The solution is not to tave a bunch of gazillionaires declare themselves as de facto rulers of the land. that’s way too much like an oligarchy.

That is not the point of this post, though! I’m talking about personal labels. Back when I realized I was bi (thirty years ago), the common refrain in the queer community was to rebuff the ‘its a choice’ or ‘it’s a lifestyle’ phrasing when it came to being queer. And I get it. Straight people didn’t waake up one day and think, “Hey, I’ve decided i’m going to be straight today.” So, yeah, I was born this way to quote Lady Gaga. But. And this is the important part. I would have chosen to be this way if I had a choice in the matter. I ilke being attracted to people of all genders. Or no gender like me. I’m greedy. Why limit myself to just one? It’s broaden my horizons, and while I do see gender, it’s not the most important factor in my attraction to someone.

I didn’t like the ‘I can’t help being queer’ mentality because there was always a tinge of…negativity to it? Not negativity, exactly,  but….

Look. Let me put it this way. When I was in my later twenties, women started asking me if I had children/was plainning on having them/wanted them. I was young and naive, and I said no. Just no. Not “hell fucking no!” or “No, I don’t want them.” Just no.

I thought it was a decision that only affected me, but I was so wrong. Everyone had something to say about it, which boggled my mind. For whatever reason, the content of my womb was fair game to other women. I hadn’t got the memo, so I was gobsmacked with the outsized reactions I recieved.

Then, because I was feeling like an outcast, I looked for a book that might have stories from other women* about not wanting children. This was before the internet was as ubiquitous as it is now, so I was looking for an actual anthology. As in a book. I found one, and I was elated to get it. Imagine my disappointment when I realized that almost all the stories (and I mean all but one or two) were by women who wanted children, but chose not to have them for one reason or the other. Or who decided to not have children because of medical issues in their family.

All of them bent over backwards to say how much they loved children and how they were so disappointed not to be able to have them. More than one made sure to mention how they were aunts or had other children in their lives.

Continue Reading

Intersectionality is still not a thing, apparently

I was watching an Australian woman’s video on a new paradigm for autism and was finding it interesting. At some point, she was talking about how information got passed along in an informal way. She said, “As we say, and this is probably problematic, it’s a game of Chinese whispers.”

My brain slammed shut and I could not hit the X button soon enough to close out the video. I was not expecting casual racism in my video about autism, and I was not down with it, thank you very much. In addition, it was doubly frustraton because she realized it was something that she probably shouldn’t say as she specifically noted it would probably be problematic, and then said it, anyway. That’s the part that really iced the cake for me. In addition, she could have easily just called it the whisper game and explained what it was or as we call it in America, the telephone game.

What she did not have to do was call it the Chinese whisper gome (and why is it Chinese in the first place) without a whiff of discomfort.

In the year of our endemic, 2024, this is just unbelievable. The video was fairly recent–certainly in this millennium. It underlies the fact that just because someone has something that is a minority in one way and suffers for it, that doesn’t make them automatically empathetic to others in the same position. It also shows how within dominant cultures, they can forget that racial minorities can also be, say, autistic.

Side note: Everyone loves the Maintenance Phase podcast and talks about how brilliant it is. I have listened to three episodes, and I’m underwhelmed. Not only beacuse I find it pretty basic, but also because it’s very much for white people. Which is fine. White people need help, too. But the fact that they briefly acknowledge that there are different issues for people of color does little to make me want to actually listen to the podcast.

Intersectionality was something I was aware of even before I knew the word for it. It stemmed from a selfish reason–I never saw me in anything. This was why I started writing fiction, by the way. I was going to be the change I wanted to see!

When I was in middle school, my world history teacher asked us what we wanted to learn about. I said Japanese internment and the Taiwanese/Chinese conflict. He said that we didn’t have time for that, which really annoyed me. Why bother asking then? The same happened in college in my feminism in philosophy class. I mentioned racism, and she said we did not have time to talk about it.

I’m sorry. I cannot put my race on hold while focusing on my gender. Thats’ not how life works. Again, if she wanted to say it was white feminism in philosophy, she should have said that. This was in 1992, so three decades ago. Sadly, I have not found it to have changed much in the meantime. Yes, there is awareness of more issues, but it’s still in discrete containers–and none of them include me.

Continue Reading

I checked my privilege. Now what?

The internet is good for a lot of things, but one thing that it’s not good at is…how do I phrase this? Follow through. Or going past the meme. Many social justice phrases were thought up for legit reasons and were very meaningful. But then they get repeated ad nauseam until they lose all meaning. That’s not surprising. Things that get repeated over and over again are going to lose nuance.

In this case, I want to talk about ‘check your privilege’. The reason this came into being was because people would give out solutions to problems without thinking how feasible said solution was for peeople in less-than-ideal situation. They assumed that other people had the resources they have, so that’s where the advice is coming from.

It’s a good thing for that reason. You do need to be cognizant that people are not in the same position that you are. A very broad example is that say you have a friend whose car breaks down. They are told that it needs a new battery (yes, I have car batteries on my mind), and they vent to you about how difficult this is for them monetarily. If you then say something like, “Oh, just ask your parents for the money” or “Just put it on your credit cards”, then you are, indeed, not checking their privilege.

It’s good to be aware that other people are not like you. They may not have the benefits you have, and something that is easy for you is not necssarily easy for them.

Here’s the thing, though. Over time, it’s just been a way to shut people down. And a signifier of who is in and who is out of a group. Also, I have never seen the phrase as complete in and of itself because it doesn’t indicate what you should do once you check your privilege.

I’ll give you an example of this as well. There was a question at Ask A Manager from a woman with large boobs who did not wear a bra to work. Her boobs were covered up, but lets face it. When you have huge honkers (as I do), there is only so much you can do to cover them up. She went about protesting in a not-great way, but I was absolutely on her side in fighting the requirement that she had to wear one.

The sheer amount of negativity people had for anyone who suggested that she keep on not wearing one or job hunt really discouraged me. This was just a year ago, and I would have thought people would have chilled the fuck out about bras in the year of our endemic, 2023. But no. So many women (yes, women) were scornful about not wearing a bra or said it was just the cost of being a woman in the professional working world.

Why? If  the boobs are covered and no nipple is shown, then why do people care? And the women who were the most vehement about this were the ones who said it wasn’t a hill to die on. If that’s the case, then why so excerised in the other direction? Someone mentioned it was privileged to quit over this. That really annoyed me, but I did not answer them. Other people did, saying that part of being privileged is using that privilege to help those who cannot make that stance.

That’s the whole point of checking one’s privilege! In addition, yes, and? If someone is in the position to do this, should they not just because it’s privileged for them to do so? In other words, should we all go for the lowest common denominator? If that’s the case, then everyone in America is in deep trouble. We are privileged in so many ways just by being Americans. Starting with English being spoken in almost every country.

I made a comment about using privilege for good, but also about diversity and inclusitivy. I am AFAB, but currently consider myself agender. I also have really ginormous boobs. I read as female, and I’m fine with that. But. I would not be fine with being ordered to wear a bra. And, yes, I would quit over it because bras hurt. All bras. Wired, no wire, and any size. I have not tried a bralette, but I don’t see the point. I used to wear exercise bras when I did Taiji, and that would be fine for an hour, but not for a whole day. Basically, anything that compresses any part of my body for hours is no bueno.

I knew that most women wear bras. I have no issues with this. But the sheer indignation so many of them had for those of us who chose not to wear them floored me. It shouldn’t have because it’s the same energy I encountered when I was in my mid-twenties and had decided not to have children, but, naively, I thought it would be better thirty years later. It’s not.

It’s even more discouraging because AAM is a progressive website. It leans left and most of the women would consider themselves feminists. And yet, the very idea of not wearing a bra in the office makes them have the vapors and clutch their pearls.

I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be rude, but i’m going to be. It’s puritanical and so 1800 to be aghast at a woman not wearing a bra, I can’t wrap my mind around it. But the same crowd were also aghast at women who chose not to wear makeup, so I guess I shouldn’t be so gobsmacked.

I am, though. It’s also darkly amusing to me that the very people who say it’s not a big deal to wear one are making such a big deal about it. If it’s not a big deal to wear one (to them) , then why is it a big deal not to wear one? Someone in the post made that argument in response to the person who said it was a silly hill to die on. “If your employer insisted you not wear a bra because someone was offended by you wearing a bra, would you shrug and take off your bra?” The OP of that thread did not answer.

That’s the thing that gets me every time. When you flip it on them, they have no response. But that’s how being a part of the norm works. You think you’re the normal one and those of us who do something different are the freaks. Well, I am a freak, but not for that. Anyone who questions the status quo will get pushback. I know that. But that much? It just depresses me.

And that doesn’t even touch on gender issues. Alison cited the fact that courts have allowed different dress codes for different genders as long as it’s not too onerous on the woman (let’s face it. It’s usually the woman) to follow the dress code. Now that there are more than two genders and they are not binary categories, how is this going to be challenged?

Finally, those of us who hav ethe privilege in any given situation should use that privilege for good when others cannot stand up in a similar situation. Otherwise, what is the point of having privilege?

I’m coming out

I’ve been talking with an online friend about having to ‘come out’ as a minority (not necessarily queer, but that can be included under the broad umbrella). Not just in terms of being out about being in a minority group, but when to bring up related issues. In this case, it wass about a vvideo game about witches. You are a witch hunter, hunting witches. A woman asked, reasonably, if all the witches were women. Another woman later pointed out that with the Salem witch trials, it’s a valid question.

More than one guy pooh-poohed it, saying that it was just a game, blah, blah, blah. I hate that mentality. Games are part of society, and the fact that they have casual (and not-so casual) sexism baked into them is not something to be dismissed. In addition, and I say this with, if not affection, positive intent, dudes neeed to STFU and listen. I know cishet white dudes are so used to being the norm. I know they think that whatever they think is standard, fine, and good.

Over at Ask A Manager, there was a question today that was related. It was from a high level manager who had autism. Her company had had issues with people wdo were neurospicy and had to pay out two settlements because of this. They brought in a new HR person, “Jane”, and the letter writer (LW) told Jane about their autism. Only the CEO and their direct reports knew, otherwise. Later, they found out that Jane had talked about their autism with their direct reports. when the LW tried to talk about this with Jane, Jane got defensive and said that the LW had a moral obligation to disclose. Which, no.

Most of the commenters were firmly on the LW’s side and shared their outrage. One commenter, though, said that it was “legitimate for an organisation to ask senior  people who are members of minoritised groups (she’s British) if they want to be visible role models for that group….” and went on to say how it was beneficial to the person as well as the company. My immediate internal response was, “Fuck no!”, and I was glad that others agreed with me. There is no personal benefit to being forced to disclosed, even under the gentle wording of ‘if you want’ (which, I would think, “Is this a dictum wrapped in a suggestion?”). She double downed it later that it had to be truly optional, but that’s a pipe dream. She also meant it more in terms of LGBTQ+ (of which she was a member), but admitted it might not be as applicable to people with autism.

I wanted to say that it’s never beneficial to the person doing the revealing, but that’s too definitive. I’me sure there are reasons it can be a relief if the employer is accepting and open. But, that’s rarely the case. And even if they are open abnd accepting on the face of it, oftentimes, they unconsciously judge the person who discloses. Or, and this is common with disability–they ascribe everything the preson does to that disability.

Continue Reading

Welcome to MY world

I’m frustrated. I’ve been a minority all my life in several ways, the most obvious one being race. I’m Asian. I live in a state that is predominately white. It’s gotten more diverse over time, but it’s still pretty damn white. So me being Asian is a very defining feature. I’m fine with that now, but it fucked with my head when I was in my twenties.

Before that, I didn’t fully realize that I was different. I mean, I only knew my life so it was, as the kids say, what it was. I didn’t understand that my parents were very exclusionary in that they only wanted to be with Taiwanese people, eat Taiwanese food, and do Taiwanese things. Rather, that’s my father and my mother went along. She was more flexible in that she did not hate America and Americans the way my father did.

I just wanted to be American. I didn’t want to be the  weirdo who ate stinky food and dressed funny. I didn’t want to be the kid who knew nothing about pop culture. I rarely went to other kids’ houses and I never invited them to mine. In other words, I was very isolated as a child. We went to a Taiwanese church, and that was where most of our socialization happened.

We celebrated Taiwanese holidays such as Mid-autumn Festival and lunar New Year by eating a ton of food and watching a bunch of skits/singing performances (by us, the attendees). Nothing ever started on time because that was part of our DNA. If it was supposed to start at six, we did not arrive until six-thirty at the very earliest. And then it would start around seven-fifteen.

I would bring a book with me and read in a corner until the festivities began. Then, my mother or father scolded me for that because I was, what, ignoring the people who weren’t even interested in me?

Anyway. It wasn’t until I was in college that I realized I was Asian, which was very different than the other people around me. That’s when I got really angry about racism, and it nearly consumed me. I was so angry that no one had told me about racism when I was a kid or a teen. That was back in the days of the fucking ‘melting pot’ theory, though, that really meant that people of color had to ‘melt’ into the dominant culture. It was never the other way around. That didn’t come until later. At least lip service to DEI, if not actual practice.

When I had a job as an admin assistant for the director of the Diversity Division in the Department of Community Corrections, man, that was a terrible job for so many reasons. A big one was job creep. I was very good at being an admin assistant in many ways, but it was clear that I could do more. My boss was not good at her job–or she was just burnt out. I did not blame her because the county didn’t give a shit about diversity–it was just a box they were ticking off.

Continue Reading

Smash the monopoly

I got a text from Xfinity saying I’m almost up to my 1.2 Terabyte limit of data.  Wait, what? They so generously said I get one grace month, but after that, the price is 10 bucks for every extra 10 GB (or something like that), up to an extra hundo a month.

Wait. What what???? I looked at what is considered data, and there is no way in hell I was using that much by myself. I called my bro. He said it might be a virus. i did a scrub. But, the stats weren’t suggesting a virus. I Googled. And it turned out that other people had this issue. And that Xfinity did jack and shit about it. It’s nearly impossible to get a human when you call Comcast, and I ended up shouting at the phone because there was nothing  I could do to get past the automated system.

I firmly believe that this is so they don’t have to deal with people. And they can do this because they are a monopoly. There are two real options in my area, and one is the one I used to have–Century Link. Honestly, the fact that I can’t get a human being has enraged me. I do have a couple numbers that I got from my last issue, and I may bust them out if I can’t get to a human in the normal way.

Redaing the forums, this is not an uncommon issue. It’s exactly the same as what I went through. Negligent usage until suddenly, they were over the limit. Mine went from 19GB to 13GB to 301GB to 626GB to 533GB to 872GB last month to 1151GB this month. What??? Even if Windows is updating. Even if there is a virus. Even if I had everything running on blast all the time, there is no fucking way my usage has increased 10 times over a few months.

I do have a new modem that I have yet to hook up. I got it because I was having internet issues the last few months. I wondered if this was related to my internet issues. I asked my brother and he said maybe. It  was a few months before that when my usage jumped. But it’s only in the last two months that I’ve been close to my limit.

This is such a little thing to be worked up over–but it’s not. My biggest issue is that my usage is not going up. I should not have to worry about bumping the limit. I’m paying through the nose for this bundle–which I may change, anyway. I know this is partly so they can get me to upgrade to limitless data. Which. I. Don’t. Need.

Continue Reading

Free your mind…if you can

I have talked before about how I reach the end of things and then decide that I need to move on. It’s not a good or a bad thing; it’s just the way I am. Meaning that I get bored with things if they don’t change.

I had a Taiji class today (Zoom), and we were going over a movement that is in the first section of the Solo (Long) Form. In other words, the very beginning of the my studies. It has been refined and tweaked, but I’ve been doing it for fifteen years. Back before the pandemic, I was teaching myself the left side of the Solo Form, and made it to roughly two-thirds into the third section. In other words, one-third from the end. My teacher’s teacher was tinkering with the form, and he was changing so much at that point that I decided to put it on hold until he finished.

Theoretically, I understood that it wasa living form. Theoretically, it was exciuting that he kept changing it. My teacher said that when he was taking lessons from the masters, they  were changing t on the regular and just expected people to keep up. Which, fine, but that’s not the way I work. Especially when I was trying to teach myself the left side.

Then, I became focused on the weapons and then, the pandemic hit. It’s only in the last six months or so that my teacher has been teaching us the new Solo Form. It’s mostly the same, and my brain is not remembering the differences. I’ll need my teacher to go over them with me in my private lessons, but I’m happy that A) It’s been refined and B) It’s settled, more or less.

I’ve been in a rut for the last few months, and I’ve decided to shake things up. Now, I’m focusing on refining the forms I know, but also on working on my upper body strength. I need to keep things spicy enough that I don’t get bored, but comfortabl e enough for me not to feel overwhelmed.

I have a weird way of doing that. I stick with what I know for a bit too long, and then I rush to do ten new things. I do wonder if I have ADHD or at least the traits. I tend to hyper-focus on something until i get bored, and then i move on. This is with groups, hobbies, and, sadly to say, people. Not that i need a person to be constantly evolving because I sure am not, but I do need a person to be at least open to the idea that there is more out there than they know. In other words, that they are willing to learn something.

My brother has an ex-friend who is a dedicated Republican. They became friends back when he was a Republican (in name) and worked at the same place I think. She was really rightwing and said to him straight up that the truth didn’t matter. If the Republicans said it, then she believed it. He did not know what to do with it, and he wanted to talk about it from time to time. He wanted to know why she thought that way because he could not fathom it.

Continue Reading

Someone always get screwed

In DEI discussions, there’s a lot of talk about equality versus equity. How treating everyone the same isn’t the same as treating everyone fairly. At Ask A Manager, this came up because of how religious days are dealt with in different jobs. In a Christian-based society (which America is, even if people don’t want to admit/acknowledge it). Hell, Christmas is a federal holiday. The fact that many people don’t consider it a Christian holiday is how dominant the religion is in this country. It’s easy to say as the majority that you don’t think of it as Christian holiday.

The discussion is about how to be fair to people from other religions. In Judaism, for example, there are Purim, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hoshanah, and more. For Muslims, there are Ramadam, Eid-ul-Fitr, and more. Alison made it the “Ask the readers” question of the week, and there have been several interesting answers.

The one that irritates me, though, is that people with no religino get no extra-day. One person said it’s like people without children don’t get days off for parent-related things and people who aren’t sick don’t take off sick days. Which is fine in each individual situation, I guess, but it’s aggravating in the aggregate. More than one person brought up this point without acknowledging that some people won’t need any of those things. But I know that people don’t give a shit about me (not me personally, but the categories that I’m in) because I’m not a parent, I’m not religious, I’m not married, I don’t have parents who depend upon me, or anything like that.

People are suggesting floating holidays or the ability to swap (so you can work Christmas if you want, asy Yom Kippur off). Or floating holidays that you can use for any day that is personally meaningful to you. What if you don’t have either of those? I do’nt care about holidays. At all. But if I was working in an office, I would want my fair share of days off. If I was working in an office, I would have had to take time off for my medical crisis. Other than that, though, I don’t need any of the other things being talked about.

That’s why I think if the office is open for Christmas, swapping days plus a standard number of days for floating holidays would work fairly well, I tihkn. I hate the argument that any inequity is done by the employer and not the employee who gets the benefits. I mean, I agree in theory, but if the employee getting the perks is putting pressure on their coworker (like a parent bugging a coworker without children) to take a shift, do their work, etc., then that coworker is part of the problem. An active one.

A few people in the thread said that the best thing to do was to just give everyone a set amount of days and let them use the days for whatever they wanted. THat’s the camp I would be in as well. People were saying that religious people from minority religions get shafted by this, but to a certain extent there is no way that it can be completely equal. Or truly fair.

Continue Reading

Neutral like Switzerland

Decades ago, people used to say that they were neutral like Switzerland, without irony. I used to say it myself, declaring that I was Switzerland when I did not want to take a stand. Then, we found out, truly, that Switzerland was not neutral, and, indeed, they were aiding the Germans in looting the Jewish treasures. To be grossly reductive.

So now, no one says they’re neutral like Switzerland except with a knowing wink. It’s a way of saying you’re taking sides without actually explicitly saying it. I’ve been thinking of it lately because there have been times in the RKG Discord when the subject of trans rights have come up (in relation to the Hogwarts game), and a few people have been…not transphobic, but not NOT ttransphobic, either.

One, we’ll call him C, was being a JKR apologist. Basically saying that she was misunderstood. She wasn’t REALLY transphobic. She was just friends with really transphobic women and retweeted their hateful comments, sending her millions of followers on a witch hunt! But she wasn’t transphobic herself, no, no, no.

The other one is a woman, I’ll call her N, who really confuses me. She’s very anti-sexism, and yet, she’s soft on transphobia. Which, maybe that means she’s a TERF herself. Oh dear. I hadn’t thought of that. She was defending the game devs (she’s one herself), which is fair. But then she said the trans woman in the group, the one who brought up reservations about the game, was biased because it affected her personally.

Which was such a shitty thing to say. Also, that’s the same for everyone. Of course you are going to be more passionate about something that affected you personally. That doesn’t make you biased. Well, it does, but not in the way we usually use biased. It just means you have more knowledge about the topic, which other people tend to ignore or downplay.

If I was a nasty person, I would point out to B that she was the same about sexism in general. And about veganism. She pushed them hard, which was natural, because they were big aspects of her identity. It’s always fascinating to me when people who are minorities in one way and are passionate about it, but then are dismissive of other people’s issues.

I know this is human nature. We are always going to look at things from your own point of view.  That’s unavoidable. But why can’t people go, “Hm. I hate sexism. So I can understand why someone else might hate transphobia.”? Again, to be grossly reductive.

Continue Reading